By the thousands.
On Tuesday, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime handed a $1.11 million check to the charity that grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“We’re very happy with the amount,” said Mike Morhaime, president of the Irvine game developer.
Was he surprised?
“We stopped making predictions about WoW a long time ago.”
The proceeds came from the sale of a Pandaren Monk, a virtual pet for the game. The creature sold for $10 between Nov. 4 and Dec. 31. Half the price was donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That means 222,000 players bought the pet.
“I was shocked. That’s a lot of virtual pets,” said Frank Pearce, the game’s executive director.
“If you read a lot of the comments in the forums, they indicated that people were really excited about Make-a-Wish and having the proceeds benefit the foundation,” Morhaime said.
In fact, Blizzard released two other virtual pets at the same time that weren’t as big sellers.
“People were definitely drawn to the Pandaren,” Pearce said.
The company has granted eight or nine wishes, including that of Ezra Chatterton, whose tale I documented starting with his May 2007 visit to Blizzard’s headquarters. Chatterton had brain cancer and played WoW with his father as an escape. His story inspired hundreds of readers and WoW players to write in and wish him the best.
The $1.1 million donation is to fund wishes, Morhaime said. It’s also a donation to the Orange County and international chapters of Make-A-Wish. The money will also be doled out proportionally by country, based on where funds originated. U.S. players were the largest contributors.
“When I found out the amount, it was a massive surprise because it had never been done before. It (the virtual pet sale) only lasted about seven weeks. I think Blizzard was hoping for $100,000 to $200,000,” said Mark Pilon, president and CEO of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire.
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The donation also makes it the first time one was split between the local and international operations.
“They looked at it as, ‘We’re getting money from all over the world so we need to share it all over the world,’ ” Pilon said. “I’m proud that it’s coming from Orange County.”
|Blizzard’s Sam ‘Samwise’ Didier sketches Jordan Cofinco’s character in WoW.|
During Tuesday’s event, about a dozen children in the local Make-a-Wish program were invited to Blizzard’s private campus for the short ceremony and a chance to play the upcoming StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3 games. Art director Sam “Samwise” Didier sketched characters while chatting with the kids. Someone even dressed up as a night elf for photo opps.
But it was Jordan Cofinco, 17, who probably got the biggest thrill of the day: Blizzard granted his wish. Cofinco, who had a brain tumor the size of his fist, simply wanted what many players desire: To be “leveled up” to level 80, the highest in the game. He also asked for a lifetime subscription and visit to Blizzard’s campus, he said.
“It’s very cool,” said Cofinco, whose brain cancer has spread to his spine. Being on Blizzard’s campus made him feel “starstruck,” he said.
Cofinco, who lives in Corona, has been playing WoW for about five years. After cancer struck, mother Brenda Starr learned how to play because it brought her son so much joy, she said. She’s now at level 80 herself and helped her son get one of his characters to the same level. But he had others, including a night elf. Blizzard granted him one level 80.
“It’s hard for him to play these days. He has tremors in his hands. Double vision. His reaction is not as quick,” she said. “The only thing that cheered him up in the hospital was WoW.”
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